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Government rejects Portland bid to sell 1,300 acres in Athi River

NEWS
By Paul Wafula | July 14th 2015

The State has rejected a proposal by East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) to dispose 1,300 acres of land it has exhausted mining raw materials from in Athi River.

In an interview with The Standard, EAPCC Chief Executive Kephar Tande said the company has now put off the planned sale after the Government refused to okay the deal.

“We presented the proposal to the Government and it was rejected. We have now shelved the plan,” said Tande Monday.

The cement maker wanted to sale the land, whose limestone reserves are exhausted to get capital for buying a new parcel and retire some of the loans it is servicing.

End speculation

The sale had been approved by the board. The rejection of the sale deal is expected to end speculation that has seen several groups line up to get a slice of the land.

The land had been a target of speculators who wanted to buy and subdivide it in into plots for sale at profit.

Most of the EAPCC land is in Athi River, Machakos County and parts of Kitengela in Kajiado County. “The land can be used to build homes, industries or rehabilitated into forests,” the firm’s Managing Director Kephar Tande said. He, however, declined to state how much it is valued at on grounds that it would have been sold competitively.

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EAPCC is largely owned by the Government and NSSF and French cement conglomerate, Lafarge.

Treasury and NSSF control 52.3 per cent shareholding, in what gives the State a bigger muscle in the boardroom. Lafarge has a 41.7 per cent stake. Minority shareholders own the remaining six per cent. This comes at a time when Portland is fighting another front with various groups in and outside courts, who have laid claim to its other idle parcels of land valued at over Sh40 billion.

Importing cement

Incorporated in 1933, EAPCC is first cement manufacturer in East and Central Africa and has over 16,000 acres of land in Athi River. It started as a trading company importing cement mainly from England for early construction work in East Africa. The company recently received Sh610 million in compensation for its land that was acquired for the construction of the standard gauge railway.

The firm sold about 102 acres (42.989 hactares) to the National Land Commission, which is acquiring land on behalf of the Government for the project. This means the EAPCC was paid about Sh6 million for an acre for the piece hived from one of its biggest land parcels.

The payment has vindicated Portland as the rightful owners of the land. Portland has four parcels of land that are currently encroached.

Tande said the money and had been ploughed back into upgrading of the firm’s plant. The firm has also applied for a Sh2.5 billion loan from the Kenya Commercial Bank to finance other projects.

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